Fatshion

BY: JORDAN DANIELS

Fatshion. It’s a word the fat world uses to describe when an overweight person dresses fashionably.

Being an overweight individual, I’ve begun to live by this word. Every post about my outfit I make on Instagram, I never fail to tag it “#fatshion.”

When it comes to my style, I would like to say that I’m bold at times, comfortable at others, and edgy when I try to be. I’m a mix of preppy and street; often wearing beanies and rings with hoodies and denim shorts, or a sports coat, checkered shirt, red bow tie, boots and a wide-rim hat to class it all up.

I like to mix my styles together because it’s hard to identify with one trend and keep up with it, especially when you’re overweight.  It’s already a stereotype that most men don’t think much about style; they just buy what’s comfortable. But when you want to be fashion-forward, you have to be very conscious of what clothes you’re getting. You don’t have a lot of different choices as a man and adding in the overweight factor, you’ll often find that your style is chosen for you.

From vertical stripes to unflattering plaids, there just aren’t many fashion-friendly options for the plus-size man. I can count with one hand how many times I’ve been to a store that has had all my clothing sizes (shirts, pants and shoes).

JCPenny is one store that tries to have more style choices in their Big & Tall section, but some branches have bigger sections than others, and the styles usually cater to an older crowd and not typically someone who wants to take some chances with their style. Boutique stores like Cotton On, Vans or H&M are great stores to get shoes and accessories, but forget about it when you begin scanning their racks for some clothes. Don’t get me wrong, they have some really cool clothing, but they fail to expand their sizes anything past an XL in most stores and a 2X in some.

While department stores like Macy’s or JC Penny are better for actual apparel, there are several factors that can make them either unobtainable or undesirable, and that’s style or cost.

Not every department store will have big and tall sections, some will just have bigger sizes scattered around the store. Macy’s does this as certain brands of their clothes will have a higher range of sizes, but seldom will they be on clearance, which means that their pricing will be at least $50 plus. You’re getting some good quality clothes of course, but when you’re a student who can barely afford dinner, you’re going to be faced with the choice to miss five meals so you can at least look good when you find the money to eat one.

In addition to stores like JCPenny, having plus-size clothing but not always plus-size style, there are some stores who cater specifically to bigger people. Women have Lane Bryant, Avenue and Torrid, just to name a few. Men have Destination XL and Casual Male XL. The discrepancy between them is that plus-size women’s store will at least attempt to have a more fashionable selection of clothes, while the men’s store will settle for those plain colors, polos and the unflattering plaids or stripes.

“I know beauty is pain,
but let's not let it be hunger, too.”

I will say, though, that Casual Male XL has a pretty good selection of jeans since they began carrying Levi’s “Athletic Fit” denim. (I would never describe myself as “Athletic” but I will now since those are the jeans that fit me the best. Eat your heart out high school sports teams.) But these prices still start at $78 and let me just reiterate that I will need to starve myself to afford one pair of jeans. I know beauty is pain, but let’s not let it be hunger, too.

Now, because of the shortage of good and modern plus sized male clothes, people like me often have to resort to shopping online instead. You would think, “Oh, online shopping is great and so easy!” but if you think about it, shopping online is extremely difficult. Not only are choices still limited, but you also can’t even try the clothes on until they ship to you, which takes normally around 5 days. And if they don’t fit then you have to send them back and wait for new ones to be exchanged.

I’ve bought my fair share of clothes online and I still do it sometimes because there are many stores that will have a big/tall section online (as if that doesn’t contribute to the reason why we’re big and tall. Society says walk more, fashion says stay inside and buy), and if I see a nice cardigan or sweater, you best believe I’m snatching it up and if I don’t fit it then I’ll keep it until I do. But at the end of all the stresses of finding clothes online, it is never worth it to spend two weeks trying to fit into one pair of whatever.

The encompassing point in this, however, is that bigger people have to go through trials and tribulations just to fit in (pun intended). We have to track down stores with plus-size sections, hope that the plus-size stores will have the style we want and pray that the shirts we ordered online will fit. And for what? All in the name of #Fatshion? Why do I have settle for a disassociation of the fashion world when the purpose of my outfits is to synchronize with the word fashion itself? As a plus-size male in a community that often shuns me and tells me that I don’t belong, I have an obligation to stop making myself part of the “other” and integrate my voluptuous self into this thin industry , one wide-rimmed hat at a time.

From fashion to #fatshion and back again, I’m no longer giving in to the notion that I can’t be fat and fashionable.